A bench hook is
nothing more than three sticks of wood.
More often than not, they can
be made of scraps and cutoffs. Designs can be dirt simple or
very involved. Even the simple designs can change depending
on the goal of its use, but with a little planning, they can
be turned into double or triple duty appliances.
A simple bench hook".
Once built, many appliances
will last a lifetime. Some will not. Bench hooks fit into
the second group. Over time, they will get beat on, cut,
pounded, and used up. It's just the nature of the beast. I
built a few of the very involved versions early on. It adds
time and complexity to something I've discovered, at least
for me, should be kept dirt simple.
What It Does...
Bench hooks use gravity and the
force of the tool to aide in (typically) cross cutting a
piece of wood. They also have the benefit of adding a
measure of safety for operations that should never be
considered with power tools. Additionally, for small pieces,
they can be pressed into service as mini shooting boards.
Gravity and tool force hold the workpiece.
How to build it...
Historically, bench hooks would
have been built with whatever timber cutoffs were available.
One of my personal character flaws is that I don't care much
for plywood and I loathe MDF conceptually. But, this is one
of those occasions where man made materials will work just
as well as the finest scraps of mahogany.
In its simplest form, a bench
hook has the following three parts: Hook, fence, bed. That's
it: nothing more. The hook is attached to the front of the
underside of the bed. It catches the front edge of your
bench. The fence is attached on top of the bed toward the
rear. This is where one references the work piece. Finally,
the bed is where the work piece rests.
If your only intent for a bench
hook is a rough cross cut, there isn't any need to make any
of these parts with extraordinary care, and you can build
this thing in minutes. However, if you do decide to mill
them with a high degree of accuracy, it's easy to turn this
simple appliance into a precision tool. And, it takes little
more effort to do so.
Note: I'm a righty, and I'll be building
this accordingly. If you're a southpaw, well, you know the
drill. Build everything in reverse.
A bench hook can be any size
you like, and ultimately, it should be scaled to the work
you do. The sizes listed here will work well though. Cut the
bed to 8" wide by 10" long. Use standard 3/4" stock for the
fence and hook, but mill it to about 2"" wide. Cut the hook
to about 8 1/8" long (slightly longer than the bed is wide),
and cut the fence to about 7".
NOTE: If you're using solid wood for the
bed, you should consider using an end grain cut for the
fence and hook.
Grab the glue and screws, and a
quality square, and let's build this thing.